Next weekend marks the start of British Summer Time (hurrah!) when the days grow longer and, hopefully, the weather starts to warm up. It’s around this time of the year that we know our horse-loving customers will be thinking about turning their horses out for the summer.
Before you turnout your horse, it’s a good idea to check a few things to make sure your horse is safe, comfortable and stress-free this summer. So we’ve prepared some top tips to remind you of the essential things to think about:
Check your paddock
It’s particularly important to check that your paddock fence is still fully intact and well maintained, following the tough winter months. Check around the perimeter to make sure your horse stays safe and secure and run a regular weekly visual check so that any damage can be repaired quickly. Make sure you also have a look at the ground and grazing areas to remove any plants that are poisonous to your horse. Poisonous plants and trees include bracken, buttercup, ground ivy, deadly nightshade, foxglove, ragwort, linseed, oak, rhododendron and yew.
Introduce grazing slowly to reduce the risk of health problems like colic and laminitis. While your horse will be keen to taste the fresh, lush, new grass in its paddock, overdoing it can cause tummy troubles. Start off slowly by allowing your horse a few hours a day in its paddock for the first few weeks and consider adjusting your horse’s diet to feed a low sugar option.
We have a number of specialist feeds in stock for laminitis-prone ponies and horses that may help with the transition to outdoor grazing during the spring and summer months. Consider using a grazing muzzle if you’re particularly worried about your horse’s pasture intake.
Did you know that grass is roughly 85% water? This helps to keep your horse hydrated during the hotter summer months. But you’ll still need to ensure plenty of fresh water is available to keep your horse refreshed.
To keep your horse in tip-top condition you may want to consider supplementing its diet until you’ve fully introduced it to the paddock. Vitamin E helps the immune system and is anti-inflammatory so can also help with digestive function. Check our stock of conditioning supplements or ask one of our team for advice if you’re not sure which supplements are best suited to your horse or pony.
Turnout and Fly Rugs
Most horses and ponies maintain their body temperature well all year-round, but it’s worth considering whether to invest in a turnout or fly rug to protect your horse from the weather and from pesky insects during the summer months.
Turnout rugs can protect your horse from harsh weather conditions such as rain and wind, which, let’s face it, are still likely to be a factor even when spring has sprung! Consider your horse’s grazing conditions, clipping routine, weight, age and exercise level before you invest in a rug and ask our team for advice if you need some help deciding which option is best.
Flies are not only annoying for your horse, but can transmit diseases, so it’s always good to do what you can to keep your horse fly-free. A fly rug or fly mask can give added protection against the buzzing blighters, and adding some garlic powder to your horse’s diet can also act as a good repellent.
Finally, enjoy the long, sunny and dry summer months with your horse or pony. There are few greater pleasures in life than riding out with a happy, healthy horse on a bright morning with your best stable buddies for company.